Part of my struggle with this experience of being medevaced has been the ridiculousness of it. The cut is superficial. The damage is to a very small part of my nervous system, and it isn’t even a really necessary part. The back of the thumb is not nearly as important as the front.
I do understand that the risk of serious damage from infection is there and that Pentecost is not the place to avoid infection. I understand that nerve damage is not to be scoffed at and it could get worse without treatment. I didn’t say it was useless, just that I feel dumb.
Part of that feeling of dumb comes from a sort of shame or guilt about receiving this level of care. What have I done to deserve this? The only reason I have this is because I was lucky enough to be born to middle-class American parents.
I know that no Ni-Van would get this kind of care. No one on Pentecost would be flown out to Vila on a chartered flight and then sent to Australia for surgery. These are the people I live with, this is my community, yet they would never expect the kind of treatment I’ve been receiving here. When one of the men in the next village over broke his leg on New Year’s Day, he was left at the Health Center until the next flight came and then sent to Vila where he is staying with friends until he can walk again. This is not the same caliber of care.
My struggle here is multi-faceted. Part of it is guilt about having access to high-quality care. Part of it is frustration that I have pulled myself out of my community and proved that I am not one of them when I have been trying so hard to be one of them. Part of it is shame that I did this, that I called, that I asked for help even if it was appropriate. Part of it is shame that it is so minor a thing that is having such an explosion of expense and activity. Part of it is shame that I am taking Peace Corps funds away from more useful things and spending them on something I shouldn’t have done in the first place.
Behind all of that mess, is a building rage, too. Yes, I am receiving top of the line care. But shouldn’t this be the standard across the world? Not the first world, not the lucky few who can pay for it, but rather shouldn’t this be an option for anyone any time this sort of thing happens? Isn’t this “appropriate care” that we talk about as being the lowest level of what everyone is entitled to?
I don’t think I should feel shame for having access. I think this level of access should be every baby’s birthright.